Philae temple is located in one of the most important monumental sites in Aswan “The Nubian City“. It was a rocky island that was called in Hieroglyphic “Apo” which means Ivory. It is located 12 km south of Aswan on Aglika Island, downstream of Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser. It was originally located near the expansive first Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt but it was relocated to nearby Agilkia Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project. It was a sacred site as an ancient pilgrimage center for the cult of Isis. This amazing temple was reopened in 1980.
The History of Philae Island
Although Philae was a small island, that you can visit during your best Egypt Nile cruises holidays it is one of the most picturesque in all of Egypt. It wasn’t more than 380 meters long and 120 meters board. It was one of the burying-places of Osiris. In the 19th century, William John Bankes took the Philae obelisk to England. It threw great light upon the Egyptian consonantal alphabet when it was compared to the Rosetta stone.
The Philae islands weren’t just sacerdotal abodes but they were also the centers of commerce between Meroe and Memphis. Philae was always a remarkable place because of the effects of light and shade, which results from its position near the Tropic of Cancer. There was a problem related to the low dam in Aswan, and the rising water in Aswan required the government to move the temple into another island, which was the mission of UNESCO that moved the temple to Agilkia Island.
The History of Philae Temple
The construction of Philae Temple was completed in around 690 A.D so it is considered to be the last of the ancient temples constructed in the classical Egyptian style. It was built to honor the goddess Isis and serves as an amazing example of the cult that was built around her story that includes Osiris and Horus.
The temple of Philae was considered to be the most sacred temple among the whole ones by both Egyptians and Nubians peoples, so this is because God Osiris was buried on the island where the temple stood. Priests were the only ones, who were permitted to dwell there, even fish and other aquatic animals never approached the shores of the island.
An Outer Look at Philae Temple
Through the first Pylon, you can get into Philae temple. There is a building called the Birth House on the western side of the forecourt that was dedicated to Hathor and Isis in honor of the birth of her son, “Horus“. It is surrounded by colonnades.
The second Pylon is an outstanding doorway that is 32 meters wide and 12 meters high. In front of it, there are foundations of a small chapel. There are also some faded Christian paintings.
A Closer Look Inside Philae Temple
In the first room of the temple, you’ll find eight columns that were separated from the court by screens. Many Coptic crosses and Greek inscriptions are found inside this room, which reveals the transformation of the temple into a Christian place during the Byzantine age under the reign of Bishop Theodore. Above the door, there is an inscription that commemorates the archeological expedition that was sent in 1841 to Philae.
In the south wall over the door, the top relief shows Horus seated on a bench with Nephthys and Isis presenting the crowns of Lower and Upper Egypt. There are unfinished obelisks to the left of the door showing the king making grants of land. On the right, there is an amazing relief that depicts the source of the River Nile.
The Sanctuary House of Isis
After some antechambers, you can reach the Sanctuary during your Egypt tours packages. You can find a small room with reliefs of the king in the presence of Isis to the left of the first antechamber but on the west side of the room, there is a door that leads out of the temple to reach Gateway of Hadrian.